Michael Reynolds (right), the owner of the Rhode Island Athletic Club in Woonsocket, sets the agenda for a recent afternoon workout for a group of Woonsocket Little Leaguers. The league's season begins on Saturday, April 5. PHOTO BY ERNEST A. BROWN
WOONSOCKET â€” Now that it's official, that the East Woonsocket and Bernon Little Leagues have merged to form one massive Woonsocket Little League, secretary Lisa Godfrin and Rhode Island Athletic Club co-owner Mike Reynolds more or less have done the same â€“ and in an unusual sort of way.
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Because some of the children involved may not know each other as well as they perhaps would like, Godfrin and Reynolds chose to put together an offseason training regimen at the club, located at 600 Social St.
There, with the season's start still a few weeks away, athletes in all divisions may work on their flexibility, speed, strength and prowess to ready themselves to play the game they adore.
Actually, it all came about pretty much by accident.
â€śIt was a combination of both of us,â€ť Godfrin mentioned. â€śMike had contacted us about sponsoring a WLL team about two or three months ago, and we started talking. We knew we wanted Mike to be involved, and vice versa. The more we talked, the wheels began turning.â€ť
Stated Reynolds, a former Lincoln High baseball standout: â€śWe had opened for business (at RIAC) last August, and we wanted to do more for the city of Woonsocket. We serve the city and the towns that surround it, so it was perfect. We wanted to help out the Little League, and they wanted to help us.
â€śI was familiar with Lisa and her family because they're members, so that made it easy given my relationship with baseball and the club and hers with the league,â€ť he added. â€śWe talked about how we could help make the kids better, and the off-season training idea began rolling.â€ť
â€śWe believe in what we can offer to the kids as a league as far as player development goes,â€ť Godfrin added. â€śWe thought it was in the kids' and our best interest to have all the players under one roof. We want to spend the time to give them the quality instruction they need to get better, regardless of age division.â€ť
At this point, 80 of the WLL's 460 registered players currently are attending offseason workouts at the club.
â€śThis is just for strength and conditioning; we don't concentrate on working on hitting or pitching or fielding,â€ť Reynolds said. â€śWe have separate clinics for that, and the league runs those. These offseason workouts are only available to those Major, Minor and Junior Division players. This is all about working with their muscles to get them stronger.â€ť
Reynolds stated he has enlisted the services of personal trainer Greg Moreau to get the players moving and motivated.
â€śThe whole premise is to show the youngsters how to become better athletes without the glove or the bat in their hands,â€ť Reynolds intimated. â€śIf they do that, it's only going to make them that much better when they do have one in hand.
â€śWe have them do drills for their arms, legs, chest, back â€“ the focus is on the body's core,â€ť he continued. â€śWe also work the abs, the obliques, lower legs and the lower back.
â€śThe three things we're trying to get them to focus on is increasing speed, strength and agility. It's a four-week program, and it started Tuesday (March 11) with six sessions per week. Each player meets with us once a week for four weeks, and they learn how to do some exercises some of them may have never done before.â€ť
Within the walls of the club's Athletic Development Center, an indoor field turf area, the players use instruments called TRX; simply put, it's suspended training where each child uses his/her own body weight to develop greater strength, flexibility, balance and core stability. Naturally, wind sprints are a key training method.
Then again, so is resistance training. Those â€ścoachesâ€ť utilize a resistance bar with stretch cords attached, and such exercises provides more power in rotation, in the core and limbs and in mobility. They even improve balance and skills, say, while within the batter's box.
â€śThis is so great for them,â€ť Godfrin stated. â€śThe kids are really excited because they feel like a collegian or a pro athlete. The players who have been involved, I've heard them say after their first week that they feel tightness, but they love it.
â€śI've also heard their parents say that their kids are sore the next day, and that they definitely could feel what the training was doing for their bodies, but that they couldn't wait to come back for more. I've had nothing but positive reviews.â€ť
Those players will get to show off their newfound strength and power at the new WLL's Opening Day at Renaud Field on Saturday, April 5 at 11 a.m.
For those interested in signing up for the league, registration has been completed for the Major and Minor (9-12) Divisions; however, there's still time to sign up for T-Ball (ages 4-6), softball (girls ages 6-16) and Junior Division (13-15).
Those who want to place their child in one of the filled categories, they may do so, but their names will be placed on a waiting list, noted Godfrin.
â€śThese workouts or going great; the kids keep showing up, and that's a good thing,â€ť Reynolds laughed. â€śThat means we're definitely doing something right.â€ť